Home  »  Harvard Classics, Vol. 45, Part 4  »  Chapter VI

The Bhagavad-Gita.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Chapter VI

KRISHNA:  THEREFORE, who doeth work rightful to do,
Not seeking gain from work, that man, O Prince!
Is Sânyasi and Yôgi—both in one!
And he is neither who lights not the flame
Of sacrifice, nor setteth hand to task.         5
  Regard as true Renouncer him that makes
Worship by work, for who renounceth not
Works not as Yôgin. So is that well said
“By works the votary doth rise to saint,
And saintship is the ceasing from all works;”         10
Because the perfect Yôgin acts—but acts
Unmoved by passions and unbound by deeds,
Setting result aside.
        Let each man raise
The Self by Soul, not trample down his Self,         15
Since Soul that is Self’s friend may grow Self’s foe,
Soul is Self’s friend when Self doth rule o’er Self
But self turns enemy if Soul’s own self
Hates Self as not itself. 1
        The sovereign soul         20
Of him who lives self-governed and at peace
Is centered in itself, taking alike
Pleasure and pain; heat, cold; glory and shame.
He is the Yôgi, he is Yûkta, glad
With joy of light and truth; dwelling apart         25
Upon a peak, with senses subjugate
Whereto the clod, the rock, the glistering gold
Show all as one. By this sign is he known
Being of equal grace to comrades, friends,
Chance-comers, strangers, lovers, enemies,         30
Aliens and kinsmen; loving all alike,
Evil or good.
    Sequestered should he sit,
Steadfastly meditating, solitary,
His thoughts controlled, his passions laid away,         35
Quit of belongings. In a fair, still spot
Having his fixed abode,—not too much raised,
Nor yet too low,—let him abide, his goods
A cloth, a deerskin, and the Kusa-grass.
There, setting hard his mind upon The One,         40
Restraining heart and senses, silent, calm,
Let him accomplish Yôga, and achieve
Pureness of soul, holding immovable
Body and neck and head, his gaze absorbed
Upon his nose-end, 2 rapt from all around,         45
Tranquil in spirit, free of fear, intent
Upon his Brahmacharya vow, devout,
Musing on Me, lost in the thought of Me.
That Yôjin, so devoted, so controlled,
Comes to the peace beyond,—My peace, the peace         50
Of high Nirvana!
        But for earthly needs
Religion is not his who too much fasts
Or too much feasts, nor his who sleeps away
An idle mind; nor his who wears to waste         55
His strength in vigils. Nay, Arjuna! call
That the true piety which most removes
Earth-aches and ills, where one is moderate
In eating and in resting, and in sport;
Measured in wish and act; sleeping betimes,         60
Waking betimes for duty.
        When the man,
So living, centres on his soul the thought
Straitly restrained—untouched internally
By stress of sense—then is he Yûkta. See!         65
Steadfast a lamp burns sheltered from the wind;
Such is the likeness of the Yôgi’s mind
Shut from sense-storms and burning bright to Heaven.
When mind broods placid, soothed with holy wont;
When Self contemplates self, and in itself         70
Hath comfort; when it knows the nameless joy
Beyond all scope of sense, revealed to soul—
Only to soul! and, knowing, wavers not,
True to the farther Truth; when, holding this,
It deems no other treasure comparable,         75
But, harbored there, cannot be stirred or shook
By any gravest grief, call that state “peace,”
That happy severance Yôga, call that man
The perfect Yôgin!
        Steadfastly the will         80
Must toil thereto, till efforts end in ease,
And thought has passed from thinking. Shaking off
All longings bred by dreams of fame and gain,
Shutting the doorways of the senses close
With watchful ward; so, step by step, it comes         85
To gift of peace assured and heart assuaged,
When the mind dwells self-wrapped, and the soul broods
Cumberless. But, as often as the heart
Breaks—wild and wavering—from control, so oft
Let him re-curb it, let him rein it back         90
To the soul’s governance! for perfect bliss
Grows only in the bosom tranquillized,
The spirit passionless, purged from offence,
Vowed to the Infinite. He who thus vows
His soul to the Supreme Soul, quitting sin,         95
Passes unhindered to the endless bliss
Of unity with Brahma. He so vowed,
So blended, sees the Life-Soul resident
In all things living, and all living things
In that Life-Soul contained. And whoso thus         100
Discerneth Me in all, and all in Me,
I never let him go; nor looseneth he
Hold upon Me; but, dwell he where he may,
Whate’er his life, in Me he dwells and lives
Because he knows and worships Me, Who dwell         105
In all which lives, and cleaves to Me in all.
Arjuna! if a man sees everywhere—
Taught by his own similitude—one Life,
One Essence in the Evil and the Good,
Hold him a Yôgi, yea! well-perfected!         110
Slayer of Madhu! yet again, this Yôg,
This Peace, derived from equanimity,
Made known by thee—I see no fixity
Therein, no rest, because the heart of men
Is unfixed, Krishna! rash, tumultuous,         115
Wilful and strong. It were all one, I think,
To hold the wayward wind, as tame man’s heart.
Hero long-armed! beyond denial, hard
Man’s heart is to restrain, and wavering;
Yet may it grow restrained by habit, Prince!         120
By wont of self-command. This Yôgi, I say,
Cometh not lightly to th’ ungoverned ones;
But he who will be master of himself
Shall win it, if he stoutly strive thereto.
And what road goeth he who, having faith,
Fails, Krishna! in the striving; falling back
From holiness, missing the perfect rule?
Is he not lost, straying from Brahma’s light,
Like the vain cloud, which floats ’twixt earth and Heaven
When lightning splits it, and it vanisheth?         130
Fain would I hear thee answer me herein,
Since, Krishna! none save thou can clear the doubt.
He is not lost, thou Son of Prithâ! No!
Nor earth, nor heaven is forfeit, even for him,
Because no heart that holds one right desire         135
Treadeth the road of loss! He who should fail,
Desiring righteousness, cometh at death
Unto the Region of the Just; dwells there
Measureless years, and being born anew,
Beginneth life again in some fair home         140
Amid the mild and happy. It may chance
He doth descend into a Yôgin house
On Vitue’s breast; but that is rare! Such birth
Is hard to be obtained on this earth, Chief!
So hath he back again what heights of heart         145
He did achieve, and so he strives anew
To perfectness, with better hope, dear Prince!
For by the old desire he is drawn on
Unwittingly; and only to desire
The purity of Yôga is to pass         150
Beyond the Sabdabrahm, the spoken Ved.
But, being Yôgi, striving strong and long,
Purged from transgressions, perfected by births
Following on births, he plants his feet at last
Upon the farther path. Such an one ranks         155
Above ascetics, higher than the wise,
Beyond achievers of vast deeds! Be thou
Yôgi, Arjuna! And of such believe,
Truest and best is he who worships Me
With inmost soul, stayed on My Mystery!         160
Here endeth Chapter VI. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ,
entitled “Atmasanyamayôg,” or “The
Book of Religion by Self-Restraint”
Note 1. The Sanskrit has this play on the double meaning of Atman. [back]
Note 2. So in original. [back]